All posts by iamvlewis

The Spirit of Competition at ISTE Taught Me Some Things

ISTE18 wasn’t all serious and just focused on teaching and learning but there were some challenges and competitiveness options that existed as well.

In the past, Josue Falaise was beastly at being at the top of the ISTE leader board through the app. He has taken away some notable prizes that were too big to fit into his luggage. He has had to have things shipped back to his home in NJ. Things have changed a little bit with how this was displayed through the app and I think that threw my brother off his game a little bit.

However, Sarah Thomas gave away a Parrot Drone during the EduMatch meetup and I was surprised to be the winner. I knew Josue would be ginning for this prize as he tried skillfully to trade up and switch out. This girl took away this prize and it came home to Georgia with me.

Drone Winning Pic


Christian and Josue face off each other in some physical competition. See who endured their interesting take on the #PushUpChallenge here.

The idea is not to “beat” your challenger but ultimately my takeaways from this were:

  1. There are things that motivate student learners to perform and as educators we need to understand that.
  2. As an educator, it is important that I am physically fit and in good health to be my best self. This self-care is important.
  3. At times, there will be factors that will make it hard for me to complete a task or reach my desired outcome–in that moment.  I must push through (unless it just brings physical harm to me or others) and not give up.
  4. It helps to have a system of accountability to help me push through rough and uncertain patches. It is easier to have a buddy or buddies that can help me cross the finish line.
  5. Have fun and be in good spirits. It’s okay to celebrate others that are victorious. I should be okay with the idea that I won’t win them all!Josue and Christian

As I look at transitioning into an administrative role this fall, I recognize that time will be even more limited for me. I also recognize that I need to be able to support others (even when I may not always want to) and I have to be mentally and physically fit to give them my best. Christian inspires me to do the physical work on me that is necessary. I need to bring my SEXY self back by dropping 10lbs.

As I watch his short videos and images on Instagram about the miles he has run, marathons he has finished,  and ” spin cycling” with other district leaders— I recognize I need to set and accomplish some physical goals by moving my bus too. I wish I lived closer to the city to join him but I will find my tribe at work that share similar interests in running and being fit to get going.

I am in competition with only my self in order to create a better version of her and those next to me will hopefully be there to cheer me on and I recognize they will need me as well.

What are some physical goals you have for yourself? How might you get a team together to meet those goals? Leave a comment below.



Curriculum Associates: A Company on a Mission

Curriculum Associates is on a mission to “make classrooms better places for teachers and students”. Often times, the classroom can appear to be  a stifling place for both teachers and students. The opportunity to be creative and engaging are usually limited and held hostage by time constraints, pacing guides, few opportunities to collaborate with others and an abundance of meaningless meetings.

While visiting select vendors at ISTE, I came across this booth to the far front left entrance of the exhibition hall. It was huge, large and inviting. When it comes to students demonstrating mastery of standards–we have to ensure that teachers understand how to unpack those standards and then be able to differentiate and personalize learning for students. I know this is easier said than done but truly we need something effective and efficient.

Lynn O’Connor speaks to some of the products their company offers (especially iReady), the overhaul and improved look of their teacher interface, Reading and Math programs for grades K-5, discourse cards in English and Spanish and more updates that will come just in time for Back to School.

See her video here.

It wouldn’t do any good if teahcers could not try the product with students and teachers and give us honest feedback. Thank you to Curriculum Associates for giving away a few sets during ISTE for the #passthescopeEDU giveaway challenge.

Chanel Johnson Winning PicTeacher of the Year Winning PicMakisha Winning Pic

Top Left: Chanel Johnson (GA), Top RightMs. Taylor (CA), and Makisha Rogers (GA #NotatISTE).

We look forward to hearing about these ladies’ experience  with the discourse cards this fall and maybe even snagging a set ourselves.

To learn more about this company, their products, and their blended learning options to truly focus on teaching and learning then visit them on Twitter at @CurriculumAssoc or online at .

Fly High with Power Up Toys

Power Up Toys Logo

Do you remember folding paper in multiple ways to fly planes across the field at recess or even in the room when the teacher wasn’t facing the class? Usually, the planes were on white notebook or copy paper and flew fast or slow (depending on your design). I preferred making those fancy open and close paper thingamajig or better yet designing those fancy rose petal drawings that fill up the entire paper (length and width).

Now we all know all things come to an end or they are upgraded and improved. This brings me back to the plain paper planes that would entertain kids for quite some time. During, ISTE18 Conference in Chicago, I came across a company called PowerUp Toys .

Power Up Dart Paper Plane

They took paper planes to a new level by allowing them to be battery operated and controlled by smartphones. Who does that? They did and did it well.

I came across this company through KEH Communications (find them at or on Twitter @KEHappenings) who was able to secure a Powerup Dart for one of the #PasstheScopeEDU  challenge giveaways.

Shai Goitein tells us a little more about the company and some of its product. The sound on the Exhibition Hall was a bit noisy ( I should have attached my external mic). Listen to him here.

Now play is not for just the young but also those that are young at heart. Surprisingly, when the challenge was announced, I thought we would get the PE Teachers and young teachers knocking down the booth’s setup. Ironically, one of the first ones to arrive was a couple that worked in Cedar Bluff, AL. They were so excited to have a full on tutorial and test trials with Shai Goitein before actually competing against each other. I am proud to say that GIRLS ROCK and Ms. Bishop took home the prize. Because, they were both great sports–Shai decided they should each take one home. They were estatic but moreso–think of the students that will also benefit.

How might this align to the curriculum or standards? Glad you asked. Can you find laws of physics to teach that will include gravity, weight, speed, distance, and design? How about implementing the Scientific Method and allowing them to hypothesize, infer, record observations, interpret data and analyze cause and effect through multiple variables.

As an educator, I would love to get my hands on many of these for all the kids in my class and there is an opportunity to do just that! Not only are there multiple videos, templates and challenge ideas (under projects and templates tab) on their websites.

There is a National Paper Plane Power Up Challenge for Fall 2018 in which you can register to get your class in on the hands-on learning and fun. Registration is now open until September 28, 2018 and winners will be announced in November. Prizes will be awarded and your class could be the winner of some awesome PowerUp Kits. The form is simple and quick to fill out and contest rules can be found here.

Power Up Challenge

I am always about play while learning and kids being able to learn concepts in engaging ways. These products do not seem to break the ban and can be ordered through school budget or through Pledge Cents or Donors Choose. I would highly encourage educators to think about the learning styles and interests of your students in order to add something that will spark their curiosity and ignite their learning.

I look forward to seeing more from Power Up Toys in the future and the opportunity for teachers to share or even create and build additional challenges across the grade levels and beyond!

The State of ISTE

State of ISTE

ISTE18 in Chicago was certainly an experience. I was lucky to attend again this year as media and so I looked through a different lens. My one and only goal was to amplify the work happening in the field by educators and those who support teachers through the use of technology.

On June 24th, Mr. Culatta (ISTE’s CEO) addressed the media group and gave an overview of the new ISTE Standards for Education Leaders (formerly the ISTE Standards for Administrators). Feedback and input was provided by 1300 educators and leaders from all 50 states and 36 countries.  These standards are intended to equip leaders to support teachers in how they implement technology in their classrooms. We all understand that if the head doesn’t model the expectations then its value can truly be lost as it trickles down. Equity, digital citizenship and professional growth were among some of the topics which the standards are based. There was a session offered at ISTE for those that wanted a deeper dive with their colleagues and peers. Download the complete list of those standards here.

TED LogoA new Ted Masterclass will be offered, free of charge, to ISTE members. This new partnership was also announced at ISTE. 3 out of 40 finalists were selected to feature their TedTalk during ISTE. I am proud to include Patricia Brown’s ( @msedtechie) talk here (notice the red carpet exclusive for TedTalk speakers). What a way to be empowered to tell those stories happening in the field and having a way for them to be amplified. You could be on the big stage at ISTE19 in Philadelphia next year.


General Motors

General Motors (GM) is also in on partnering with ISTE to help support teachers and students in their exploration and discovery with Artificial Intelligence (AI). 25 school districts from AZ, GA, CA, IL, MI, NJ, OR, VA, and WY have been piloting the work since late September 2017 and showcased their results in Chicago. The idea is that students can become creators of AI content that will help to solve some of the world’s social challenges.


On June 25th, ISTE U was launched in conjunction with education experts to offer a wealth of learning and knowledge in an online format centered around some hot topics in education today that may not have always been accessible. D2L has forged this partnership with ISTE using its Bright Space LMS to offer these services and launch approximately 12 courses ranging from Open Educational Resources (OER) and Digital Citizenship. Forward momentum is already happening to create additional courses  that can be developed and added to the platform to promote growth. For a complete listing of current courses and their start dates, click here.

ISTE CertificationFinally, think about putting all of this learning to good use by being recognized for the knowledge you have gained and the time you have spent. You can do this by becoming ISTE Certified. The program will happen in 2 phases which will include a 2 day face to face training with certified professionals and a 5 week online component. The total time invested is approximately 30 hours.  See the syllabus here. This program is open to teachers, educators, media specialists and leaders based on the ISTE standards and transformative pedagogy. Upon completion of the course, six months will be granted to gather and compile artifacts and reflections as evidence of learning to earn the certification. To learn more and stay in the know about this certification, put your name on the list.

These are some exciting initiatives and steps ahead for the organization and its members. Continue to remain connected onto the platform and communities and register for additional learning opportunities as they arise to transform your classroom and teaching and learning.

Scratching Below the Surface of GPS the Series

When attending conferences, especially large ones like ISTE, you have your plan of attack laid out (for the most part). You know the people you want to see, hangout with or the keynotes that will be featured. You have downloaded the conference app or schedule and tallied out the daily sessions you’ll attend. You even hope to make your way to the vendors’ or exhibitors’ hall in hopes of some highlighters, sharpies, pens, buttons, stickers, post-its, swag or cool giveaways. The thing you hate most is the salesman trying to sell you a presentation or product knowing good and well you have no purchasing power. When in buildings and conferences with teachers then….think like a teacher.

Before arriving in Chicago, I was made aware of a launch that would take place and was hired by World Changing along with some other educators to assist with the launch and have dynamic discourse with educators alike. We were never asked to market or sell a product, collect teacher’s names but simply have a conversation about how to help younger learners develop some life skills that ultimately would impact the greater community.

Now an influencer, could be described as someone that has the ability to lead others and convince them to follow. Although, I do not claim to be an influencer, I do recognize my strength on being able to huddle a crowd together and get them to listen and follow. This skill allowed me to formulate a team that could assist Cisco CSR (a subdivision of the larger corporate organization) with the launch of GPS the Series .

Oh boy! I know you are saying here comes another product but GPS the Series is a supplement to the curriculum not a replacement for it.

What I really liked about this series was what I could see at face value: multicultural teenage characters, the emphasis of real life talent and skills amplified as super powers, and real impact made by the youngest of citizens. As I took a deeper dive, my mind began to think about the Season 1 Trailer and its episodes on the Water Wells in Malawi (Africa) and how this could pair up nicely with a Biology, Chemistry or Engineering lesson units. In Season 2: The Problem, the issue of natural disasters has unfortunately become an all too common theme in the United States over the past several years. Lessons centered around population, habitats and ecosystems, economics, electricity and power, transportation, safety and survival plans, community and collaboration came to mind. What types of dialogue do you believe your students could engage in and how might you assess their understanding? Perhaps through academic language, the ability to apply it across subjects,  or through reading, listening and speaking.

GPS Navigation Bar

When navigating the site, you’ll see that Season 1 and 2 are each broken down into 7 episodes that run under 4 minutes each.  You can access it from the navigation icon on the top right of your screen (see image above). This is quick and easy because it allows you to integrate into class time as a bell ringer , dedicated station or even in a flipped model from home, if a device and internet are accessible. The episodes are followed by 2 sets of questions connected to the real world to help facilitate the dialogue in class or through another medium like FlipGrid.

Each episode is broken down in steps, almost similar to how you would facilitate students through their thinking.

Step 1: The Problem

Step 2 : Ideate Solutions

Step 3: Integrate Technology

Step 4: Think of a Business Plan (so it’s viable and sustainable)

Step 5: Test it out in an authentic way to measure and assess results and impact

Step 6: Celebrate wins ( both great or small)

A downloadable Teacher’s Guide (about 35 pages total) accompanies the full season. You can print specifically the pages you need for the episode you are watching. These are filled with additional resources you could use, questions, objectives, and a wealth of connections that are authentic and meaningful to the learner.

There are also storyboards and scripts that can be downloaded for those students that are great at visual storytelling or own artistic skills. Think of how to engage them better but also how you can help improve some literacy skills simultaneously.

All of these resources can be found in English directly on the site at but you can also use Google Translate to place the pdf into a language you and your students can understand.

Here is a quick video tutorial to show you how to translate documents into another language.

Think how you can transform your classroom and teaching this fall for the SY 2018-19 and impact students to problem solve, think critically and impact communities on a local, national or global scale. This program doesn’t cost you a thing to try and you know we all love FREE!

The Day Before ISTE18 : Badge Summit, Unconferences, and Teach Meets Hold it Down

The excitement and the buzz of ISTE18 is feverish, ironically the weather is cool.  The Blue Line Train is rolling, ride shares are moving, and people are teeming from square buildings, corners and walkways. This Saturday is perfect and it so happens to be the eve of ISTE in Chicago!

Claudio Zavala and I have both landed at O’Hare airport ( he from TX and I from Atlanta) and are filled with the excitement of the learning, sharing the stories of the goodness in education and connecting face to face with our PLN in the days ahead.

On this day, Columbia College was host site to Badge Summit where Noah Giesel is the organizer. The event space shoulders multiple floors and certainly embodies the spirit of innovation and collaboration. When you walked into the large assembly, you noticed a balance between men and women as well as varied shades of people—it was a beautiful mix! This event was so informative and planned out well.

The conversations and sessions centered around emblems and micro-credentialing used to signify a level of distinction in education and other industries.  Business and educational thought leaders alike are thinking of ways in which young people, building staff and employees can demonstrate mastery and it mean something across multiple spaces.

The conference keynote was Samuel Dyson, Deputy Director of the Chicago Learning Exchange. Learn more about him here  and watch briefly here.

The day was followed by many great 2018 Conference Schedule   .

One of these sessions was led by Jennifer Williams of Participate and friends on alternatives to Top Down PD. A design thinking challenge was presented around teacher led professional development for groups that are usually left out. Hear the teacher share outs here .

The big takeaways for me were that there are individuals within industries that want to be recognized in a certain capacity by their skills but also that want to know that this recognition has some reciprocity across the board, regions, and countries. Catch Sarah Thomas’ scope of a local community Chicago youth who spoke about understanding the value of badging here and here.

There were many ideas in the room on how to get started and scaled up to more complex thinking from a panelist of Moon Shot Thinkers. See that conversation here. Gamifying badging and personalizing them were popular sessions as well. Catch those scopes on Claudio’s Twitter feed or periscope channel.

Finally, bridging communities and organizations with young people will be vital to this growing community. To learn more about organizations supporting Chicago’s Youth, visit The Hive Chicago Network and individuals like Sana Jafri (@jafs31) .

We look forward to Badge Summit 2019 in Philadelphia but be sure to connect with Noah Giesel online to learn more about this awesome space and community of educators and those that support education.

Scoping it Out

Where it All Began

So, who has time to sit around and chit chat when it [time] holds us hostage? People make time for the things they want and find a way to fit them into their schedules —No Matter What. This includes spending time with the family, must-have meetings that take priority, reading a book for professional growth or leisure, and right down to scheduling in a nap. No matter what tickles your fancy, I can say that teachers are usually passionate about teaching and assisting students in their learning journey. The love of it all feels like a marriage and certainly an investment. it is challenging not to lose sight of oneself in the chaos of it all but I am so glad that I did not take this vow alone.


In April 2016, 5 educators:  Sarah Thomas, Valerie Lewis, Knikole Taylor, Toutoule Ntoya, and Derek Larson (connected through the our EduMatch voxer group) sat around trying to convince ourselves that we had a life outside of school and were “normal” humans, despite what society thought. Our love of photography, culinary, music, sewing, the outdoors and great lyricists in the hip hop world affirmed that we were more than educators–we were HUMAN! We were so LIT on the idea that the world needed to see us in a different light. Indeed, teachers were cool and how awesome it would be to share those stories with the world.

Where and when will we show them (as though it was a special request)?

We all lived in different parts of the country so being on screen together from multiple devices would prove to be quite a challenge. BUT if we could “pass the scope”to one another then we had a shot. Periscope would be our stage and this is how it grew publicly.

This smack talking grew into a community of 80+ members of which about 1/4 hold it down religiously every 3rd Thursday of every month. This community is close knit and encouraging especially to those in education but welcomes other professional industries to join us in amplify goodness despite their level of expertise in streaming.

Where We Are Now

Two years later, we must confess that we truly are married to education.  Our scopes are not a showcase of our talents or passions but a lens on our love for teaching. We are the experts in the room that lend our voice, truth, network partnerships, best instructional practices, and experiences to a broader audience. These stories often turn out to be unique or very shockingly relatable to our viewers. We share our pass-ion one scope at a time in a monthly 5-15 minute window of time. Makisha Rogers mentioned that we are a sort of pop-up PD on screen that can be viewed live in real time or whenever you can find the best moment to watch. We are a community that unselfishly seeks to amplify the goodness of the whole! Today, we are still on screen every 3rd Thursday across the country and globe.

beginnings 3


Where We Are Going

In Summer 2017, we offered a unique perspective at one of the largest edtech conferences —ISTE Conference in host city San Antonio, TX.  The outpouring of thanks from tens of hundreds of viewers pushed us into the realm of offering this service to conferences more frequently. The power of the many feet on the ground with a strategic plan has helped us realize our mission which is to amplify the stories of those that may often feel muted within their own buildings. We are also able to magnify the idea that the power of conferences is in the connection of the attendees.

Therefore, this year—we are back for ISTE18 and will cover Badge Summit, EduMatch Meetup, keynote/featured speakers, EdTech Karaoke, workshops, poster sessions, playgrounds, the famed Ignite sessions, exhibitor hall vendors, those who seek refuge in the blogger’s cafe, social gatherings, Coffee Edu, participant take aways and more.

Our craft is continuously improving through the use of OBS, Periscope Producer, and quality equipment. We are taking this thing seriously. We are organizing regional teams that can cover EdCamps, unconferences and other educational and tech events happening across the country in order to control the narrative of education through the sponsorship of leading companies and organizations. If you are interested in being part of this team then please reach out to us on Twitter or visit our site. We continue to aim to deliver authentic and meaningful scopes fashioned around creative topic themes monthly. O what a celebration it will be when we can fill every 15 minute interval timeslot from sun up to sundown!

Since our initial founding members, the community has gained some truly talented and committed members like Brian Smith, Claudio Zavala, Stacy Lovdahl, Amy Storer, Jacqueline Rose, and Dan Kreiness that make this community run through graphic design, learning opportunities, and planning ahead. There are so many more individuals to shout out individually because they scope when they can and support the community by amplifying its work. We do not take any of their contributions or support for granted. Thank you for your belief in this work and being part of our PLN!

This is a powerful community and we appreciate the encouragement to learn beyond the walls of the classroom.

And to you, the many viewers that tune in, like, and retweet our scopes–we THANK YOU for helping us to reach new heights. Take a step further and scope this thing out with us!

You can find out more about our community by visiting (site built by Brian Smith) and share your passion for learning.